Wednesday, May 07, 2014

FM favored over "mindless DRM"

India's broadcast chief calls for "mindless" DRM plan to be dropped in favour of FM.

You will soon be able to catch your favourite regional radio programmes on FM radio with maximising of the existing technology and junking of the "mindless" and "silly" plan of introducing digital radio, says Prasar
Bharati chief Jawhar Sircar.

Sircar, the CEO of India's public broadcaster that runs All India Radio and Doordarshan, said plans are afoot to place FM towers \\ to MW towers to achieve "simulcast" or simultaneously broadcast programmes which are run on Medium Wave on the Frequency Modulation towers.

"Simulcast is the new technology. If I put in an FM tower \\ to an MW tower, we can have simultaneously casting," Sircar said in an interview. "With this, you will be able to hear programmes from primary channels, say Kolkata 'A' or 'B' on FM," said the top bureaucrat, known to have had run-ins with the information and broadcasting ministry over the running of the autonomous public service broadcaster. Funds for this venture will come from leasing out the 50-odd centres where SW or Short Wave receiving transmitters stand, and also "closing down DRM" or digital radio mondiale and "putting the money in FM", he said.

SW has no takers any more and the 50 transmitters or receiving centres are standing on prime land located in 50 major towns across India, which could be leased out to government departments. It will earn "enough money to fund the entire exercise", the top official said.

On digital radio, Sircar said the government has already spent a lot of money on digital radio needlessly. "A lot of money has been pushed into DRM, and we have around 100 DRM transmitters. But the DRM radio receivers cost Rs5,000, so who will buy them? So, all the silly targets being made within Prasar Bharati or even in the ministry would require a re-examination before we push any target," he said.

"There are markets and there are issues in which you can't go in for long term views. The long term view was (to go in for) DRM. I think it is silly."

The decision to go in for digital radio was taken six-eight years ago. "But nobody studied to see (the cost of receivers). Then it was Rs10,000 and now it is Rs5,000. No Indian can afford it," he said, adding that the
move for digital radio was akin to "mindlessly" aping World Space radio, a premium satellite radio network that went defunct in 2009. "World Space radio with less (cost of receivers) could not survive ... why put mindless pressure?

"We will close down DRM, and put that money into FM," he said. The money, around Rs20 crore for each DRM phase, could be used to purchase the equipment for simulcasting of FM and MW at around Rs.80 lakh per tower. "If I can save Rs20 crore, I can put 20 FM systems," the CEO said. {4 March 2014 - New Delhi}
via Alan Pennington-UK, in BrDXC-UK "Communication" May 2014 magazine)
(Top Nx 1160/07 May 2014)